Rebuilding Japan’s foreign policy will be another challenge for the Abe Administration, especially in view of the rising tension between Japan and its neighbouring states - China and South Korea – over territorial disputes.
To avoid further deterioration in the bilateral relationship, both Japan and China need to now abandon their hard-line stance and stop escalating nationalistic sentiments among their people.
Considering the complementary interests and interdependencies at stake between China and Japan as also their individual aspirations of nation building through peace and stability, a clash over the Senkakus would only result in a ‘lose-lose’ outcome.
In view of putative conflict for leadership in the region between China and Japan, and barriers in various initiatives for deepening and stabilizing regional financial markets, the economic-security discourse in East Asia is still facing an uncertain prospect and should be continually monitored.
This Issue Brief presents the historical and legal debate surrounding the dispute and in the process underscores the inconsistencies and weaknesses in the Chinese claims.
Japan’s nationalisation of Senkaku Island has given China a chance to reassert its territorial claims, which has resulted in widespread anti-Japan protests as well as a diplomatic spat between Beijing and Tokyo.
The Japanese cabinet’s decision to purchase three of the five Senkaku islands has led to heightened tension in East Asian region. With China adopting an assertive posture on the issue, American unwillingness or incapability to come to the rescue of Japan would impair its ‘pivot’ or ‘rebalancing’ strategy in the region.
The rise of nationalism in both Japan and China and the sovereignty issue over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea is a highly explosive mix, perhaps even more so than the South China Sea island and territorial disputes.
Like in the 2011 edition of the Defence White Paper, this year too, the report warns that China’s military movements are “a matter of concern” for the Asian region and the international community, and “should require prudent analysis.”
While the Japanese government is facing pressure from the Tokyo Metropolitan government, Ishigaki municipal assembly and the main opposition LDP to nationalise the Senkaku Islands, a section of Japanese people have been asking it not to provoke China.